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Oliver Craven

  • Programme: MBA
  • Nationality: British
  • Job Pre-programme: Navigating Officer, Royal Navy
  • Job Post-programme: Private Wealth Management, Goldman Sachs

With offers in hand from several top US business schools, Oliver Craven MBA2016 says the London Business School Military Scholarship was a significant factor in his MBA decision-making process. “I was married with two children when I did the programme, so I had to look carefully at finances. LBS was the only European school I applied to, and receiving such a generous scholarship was a deal-breaker in choosing the UK over the US.”


Taking his place in the class of 2016, Oliver joined the growing line of successful ex-military alumni to benefit from the LBS Military Scholarship. “It was a fantastic award to receive. I felt that I’d really achieved something – it was the perfect start to my MBA journey.” He also praises the way his scholarship was disbursed. “The award structure is clever. The money I received was front-loaded to offset my LBS fees, so I didn’t initially have any tuition to pay. That’s a huge help when you’re coming from a totally different industry and also losing salary.”


Despite coming to LBS with extensive leadership experience – during his time in the Navy he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander six years ahead of average – Oliver says his MBA was fully instrumental in his career transition. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after the Navy. So I needed exposure to a variety of industries, and, because my original degree was in anthropology and social science, I also needed a thorough academic grounding. I’d spoken to a number of LBS ex-military alumni during my pre-business school networking, and I knew that quite a few had gone into consulting. I sort of assumed I would do the same thing.”


Oliver duly joined the Summer Consulting Team, but says that aside from the client interaction, consulting didn’t provide the career answers he wanted. It was a classmate who first mentioned the idea of wealth management. “I had really been enjoying my finance courses, but without a pure finance background investment banking seemed too big a leap. One of my summer consulting colleagues came from private banking and said I should consider it, since I enjoyed client work, finance and markets. Her knowledge sharing is so indicative of my LBS experience - without it I would never have discovered private wealth, or Goldman.”


Oliver says this intrinsic level of information sharing also helped him form strong bonds with his study group. “In terms of academics, I think students from the military can find it a bit harder because we don’t have a specialism when we join the MBA. Our skills are often intangible ones, like driving the group to finish on time, or structuring ideas and projects. But the LBS study group model unites people from different industries and different nationalities – and when you have a problem you get four different answers so can cherry pick ideas. I built a strong level of trust with my group, and these are still people I go to now when I want to talk something through.”


Two years out from his MBA, Oliver says that wealth management has proved the perfect transition from his military experience, and that his LBS MBA was exactly the right grounding. “I came away from business school with a solid understanding of so many topics – marketing, corporate finance, markets, accounting – and enough detail that I can now talk knowledgeably to people from a range of sectors about their finance options. In the wealth management space, that breadth of understanding is very, very important.”


And does he feel the investment of time and money was worth it? “If I’d left the military and gone straight into a random job I guarantee I’d have had to move around a lot before finding my niche. I’ve ended up where I want to spend the next 20 years of life –– I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my MBA than that.”


March 2018